Saturday, 1 May 2010

Walthamstow Labour Party continues to abuse my copyright

A hat tip to Martin Belam, who has spotted something that I hadn’t – that the local Labour Party’s cynical misuse of my blog photograph is continuing.

He spotted this last weekend and today I went along and had a look. Yes, my photo is still on prominent display in the Walthamstow Labour Party window at 23 Orford Road E17 and it and is still being used in a wilfully misleading way to slag off the local Liberal Democrats.

Let me recapitulate. By using my copyright photograph the local Labour Party is in breach of The Digital Economy Act, which the Brown government rushed through in the closing days of the current parliament and which has been strongly criticised on civil liberties grounds. Among other things it gives the state the power to disconnect you from the internet if you breach copyright.

My photo which the local Labour Party has pilfered shows a street choked with cars. This scene (unidentified on the election literature) is used in a Hoe Street ward leaflet to criticise the Liberal Democrats for their policy on Controlled Parking Zones. In fact I took this photo on Westward Road, Chingford, so it is of dubious relevance to Hoe Street ward. It is additionally irrelevant in so far as Westward Road is not in a CPZ. Finally, the parking conditions on this street cannot be blamed on the Lib Dems as they were created by a Labour council long before the party lost overall control.

The final absurdity is that a few days ago, as reported in the local paper, the coalition council agreed a policy on reducing CPZ charges, so the Labour and Liberal Democrat policies are as one. This makes the claims in this leaflet grossly misleading.

The ripples of this affair have now even reached the website of the Daily Telegraph, where Shane Richmond comments:

During the debate on the Digital Economy Act, Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, told MPs:

“Hundreds of millions of pounds a year is haemorrhaging from our creative industries because of unlawful file sharing, and that is not a harmless or victimless activity. It deprives our musicians, writers, film makers, actors and other artists of their livelihood, and if we do not do something about such activity it will pose a serious threat to our creative sectors and Britain’s leadership in them.”

I wonder how he squares that with his own party’s apparent contempt for the rights of creators?

The Digital Economy Act requires ISPs to send warning letters to customers who are accused of illegally sharing copyrighted material. It’s likely that the letters will not be sent out until early next year. Should one drop through your door, perhaps you can try Labour’s defence.

Try this: “Yes, I did download that album but I only listened to it for a set period and that period has now passed.”

Or this: “Yes, I downloaded your new film but that was an innocent error which I regret.”

How do you think you’d get on?